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Liszt: Complete Piano Music Box set

5.0 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, February 8, 2011
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Leslie Howard, piano

Product Details

  • Performer: Leslie Howard, Paul Coletti, Wolf Kahler, Sandor Elès, Yuri Stepanov
  • Orchestra: Budapest Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Karl Rickenbacher
  • Composer: Franz Liszt
  • Audio CD (February 8, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 99
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: HYPERION
  • ASIN: B004G7FFF8
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,797 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
In October 1985, Leslie Howard embarked on a journey, one which became his Everest expedition. When it ended, in April 2009, he had reached the summit of recordings: 7,256 minutes (almost 121 hours) of every note that Ferenc (Franz) Liszt wrote for the piano. The first 95 discs were recorded by 1999, and four additional ones (Liszt: New Discoveries) were made over the next 10 years as new manuscripts were discovered. In 2010, Hyperion Records, founded by the late Ted Perry who gave the green light to Howard's journey, decided to issue a box set of all 99 discs, and what we have is a magnificent product that no Liszt lover should be without.

Since almost all of the individual CDs have been reviewed separately here on Amazon, I will endeavor to review the physical aspects of the set. First, the box: it is quite sturdy, very smooth to the touch, and not at all like some of the cheap offerings from other classical labels. Inside are the 99 CDs, arranged as they might be if sitting on a CD shelf, and color-coded by sleeve as follows:

Discs 1-6: Etudes and early works
Discs 7-19: Major original compositions
Discs 20-29: Dances, marches, & transcriptions of Liszt's own works
Discs 30-36: Pieces on national themes
Discs 37-49: Operatic fantasies, transcriptions, and paraphrases
Discs 50-61: Concert transcriptions
Discs 62-69: The Beethoven transcriptions
Discs 70-79: The Schubert transcriptions
Discs 80-94: Rare works and new discoveries
Discs 95-99: Music for piano and orchestra

Each individual cardboard sleeve lists the contents for that individual disc, with track timings. Sitting on top of the discs is a very slick booklet, which contains the following:

-A biography of Leslie Howard.
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The complete piano works of Liszt consists of 99 CD's- all played by the remarkable Australian living in U.K. Leslie Howard. My understanding is that Guiness lists this set as the largest recording project ever attempted by one individual in recording history. That should be no surprise. Until reading about this incredible collection of the work of Liszt I would have thought you could have complete Liszt piano works in about 15 or so discs. I had no idea he was this prolific. Not only did he compose this much and more, but the was the Elvis Presley of his age and has been called the greatest pianist/showman of all time. Some of the music are transcriptions of lieder, symphonies, opera selections, etc. They were done so the average 19th century household with a piano could enjoy a Beethoven Symphony, a Schubert song, etc. But even these pieces were done with taste and imagination. Leslie Howard is a great pianist who claims he has the largest reportoire in history. His playing has fire when reqauired and quietness when required. Not all of the music is great- some pieces are mediocre. But this is even true of Back from time to time. Most of the pieces are new to me- and probably everyone else. Mr. Howard has done a great public service much as Fischer-Dieskau did when he recorded all of Schubert's 600 or so songs. There are so many musical treasures that are never heard except through recordings like this one. The Hyperion recording sound is superb, the budget price of the set is more than fair. Overall, this is a must for any piano afficionado.
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WHAT A FEAT!

by jbongiornochi

I have been followong Leslie Howard's complete-Liszt-piano-music project from afar for a number of years. I assumed (always dangerous)he was a second-tier pianist trying to make a name for himself by attacking a humungous feat. His article in Wikipedea makes no mention of any activity in the United States, which was another strike against him.

I was wrong. His playing is world-clss technically and musically. The quality is persistent throughout, with an unceasing elan. You'd think he'd approach some of the music lackadaisically: "Ho hum, another thirty waltzes today." Not so, at least not in the samples I listened to.

Okay, I figured, let's start with The Sonata. As good as any I've heard. The Beethoven-symphony transcriptions: better than any I've heard. Opera paraphrases and transcriptions: Superb.

Comments on the opera works: such works were allegedly written for home use because so few poeple would afford to go to live performances. If so, the amateur players at home must have beeen awfully talented, because it sounds like it would take players of Liszt's talent to play them. Second, they are best listened a disc at a time, because there are only so many "frills" Liszt could use -- scales and cadensas in thirds and fifths, arpeggios, thundering bass (How often is bass not "thundering"?) -- and in time they can become tiresome, although through no fault of Howard's. Many of them address operas by composers who have passed into the darkness of obscurity.
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